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As in hot regions, brings the sun too near,
'Tis but to make your fragrant spices blow,
Which in our cooler climates will not grow.
They only think you animate your theme
With too much fire, who are themselves all phlegm.
Prizes would be for lags of slowest pace,
Were cripples made the judges of the race.
Despise those drones, who praise, while they accuse
The too much vigour of your youthful muse.
That humble style which they their virtue make,
Is in your power; you need but stoop and take.
Your beauteous images must be allow'd
By all, but some vile poets of the crowd.
But how should any signpost dauber know
The worth of Titian or of Angelo?
Hard features every bungler can command;
To draw true beauty shows a master's hand.
CO THE EARL OF ROSCOMMON, ON HIS EXCELLENT ESSAY
ON TRANSLATED VERSE.
WHETHER the fruitful Nile, or Tyrian shore,
The seeds of arts and infant science bore,
'Tis sure the noble plant, translated first,
Advanc'd its head in Grecian gardens nurs’d.
The Grecians added verse: their tuneful tongue 5
Made nature first and nature's God their song. Nor stopt translation here : for conquering Rome, With Grecian spoils, brought Grecian numbers
home; Enrich'd by those Athenian muses more, Than all the vanquish'd world could yield before. Till barbarous nations, and more barbarous times, Debas'd the majesty of verse to rhymes; Those rude at first: a kind of hobbling prose, That limp'd along, and tinkled in the close. But Italy, reviving from the trance Of Vandal, Goth, and Monkish ignorance, With
pauses, cadence, and well vowelld words, And all the graces a good ear affords, Made rhyme an art, and Dante's polish'd page Restor'd a silver, not a golden age.
20 Then Petrarch follow'd, and in him we see What rhyme improv'd in all its height can be: At best a pleasing sound, and fair barbarity. The French pursu'd their steps; and Britain, last, In manly sweetness all the rest surpass’d. The wit of Greece, the gravity of Rome, Appear exalted in the British loom :
V. 14. and tinkled in the close] Dryden adopts the contemptuous description of rhyme from preceding authors, and those of no mean note. Thus in Ben Jonson's Mask of The Fortunate Isles, Skogan, the jester, is represented as a writer 'in rime, fine tinckling rime!' And Andrew Marvell, in his spirited verses to Milton on his Paradise Lost, thus exclaims:
* Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure.' T.
The Muses' empire is restor'd again,
In Charles his reign, and by Roscommon's pen.
Yet modestly he does his work survey,
And calls a finish'd Poem an Essay;
For all the needful rules are scatter'd here;
Truth smoothly told, and pleasantly severe;
So well is art disguis’d, for nature to appear.
Nor need those rules to give translation light : 35
His own example is a flame so bright;
That he who but arrives to copy well,
Unguided will advance, unknowing will excel.
Scarce his own Horace could such rules ordain,
Or his own Virgil sing a nobler strain.
How much in him may rising Ireland boast, -
How much in gaining him has Britain lost !
Their island in revenge has ours reclaim'd ;
The more instructed we, the more we still are
'Tis well for us his generous blood did flow,
Deriv'd from British channels long ago,
That here his conquering ancestors were nurs’d;
And Ireland but translated England first:
By this reprisal we regain our right,
Else must the two contending nations fight;
A nobler quarrel for his native earth,
Than what divided Greece for Homer's birth.
To what perfection will our tongue arrive,
How will invention and translation thrive,
When authors nobly born will bear their part, 53
And not disdain the inglorious praise of art!
Great generals thus, descending from command,
With their own toil provoke the soldier's hand.
How will sweet Ovid's ghost be pleas'd to hear
His fame augmented by an English peer;
How he embellishes his Helen's loves,
Outdoes his softness, and his sense improves ?
When these translate, and teach translators too,
Nor firstling kid, nor any vulgar vow,
Should at Apollo's grateful altar stand:
Roscommon writes: to that auspicious hand,
Muse, feed the bull that spurns the yellow sand.
Roscommon, whom both court and camps com-
True to his prince, and faithful to his friend;
Roscommon, first in fields of honour known,
First in the peaceful triumphs of the gown;
Who both Minervas justly makes his own.
Now let the few belov’d by Jove, and they
Whom infus’d Titan form’d of better clay,
On equal terms with ancient wit engage,
Nor mighty Homer fear, nor sacred Virgil's page:
Our English palace opens wide in state;
And without stooping they may pass the gate.
TO THE DUCHESS OF YORK,* ON HER RETURN FROM
SCOTLAND IN THE YEAR 1682.
When factivus rage to cruel exile drove
The queen of beauty, and the court of love,
The Muses droop'd, with their forsaken arts,
And the sad Cupids broke their useless darts :
Our fruitful plains to wilds and deserts turn’d,
Like Eden's face, when banish'd man it mourn'd.
Love was no more, when loyalty was gone,
The great supporter of his awful throne.
Love could no longer after beauty stay,
But wander'd northward to the verge of day,
As if the sun and he had lost their way.
But now the illustrious nymph, return'd again,
Brings every grace triumphant in her train.
The wond'ring Nereids, though they rais'd no storm,
Foreslow d her passage, to behold her form :
Some cried, a Venus ; some, a Thetis pass'd ;
But this was not so fair, nor that so chaste.
Far from her sight flew Faction, Strife, and Pride ;
* On the twenty-first of November, 1673, the Duke of York was married to the princess Mary d'Este, then about fifteen years of age, and extremely handsome
The ceremony was perfo ned at Dover by the Bishop of Oxford. It was against the rules of policy for him at that time to wed a Ro man Catholic; and the parliament addressed against it. D. VOL. II.